According to the Yomiuri Shimbun, most of Japan's electric power utilities have agreed to push up the schedule for replacing customer meters with a new generation of "smart meters".
The power companies had collectively decided to roll out these meters over a leisurely schedule of 20 years.
The "growth strategy" released by the government of Prime Minister Abe in June had instead set a much more aggressive target to implement smart meters by the early 2020s.
The scheduling issue apparently came to a head at a METI Energy & Natural Resources Agency meeting in mid-September, where the utilities presented their plans, to great skepticism of other participants. According to Yomiuri, six of the ten regional monopoly utilities have since indicated they will revisit their schedules, including TEPCO and KEPCO, the two largest in the group.
Both TEPCO and KEPCO also have apparently indicated a willingness to permit open bidding for suppliers of smart meters instead of relying upon their existing, uncompetitive "fat and happy" network of related company suppliers.
See our note last year about the Smart Meter Snafu.
UPDATE: According to the October 28, 2013 Nikkei, TEPCO has further accelerated its schedule and will have "smart meters" installed in its entire service area by 2020. According to the article at least one U.S. based "venture company" intends to offer demand management service starting in July of 2014. TEPCO will start installing the meters from April 2014, and according to its former plan was aiming for 1.9 million in FY2014, 3.2 million in FY2015 and a total of 27 million by 2023. This will be accelerated. Kansai Electric has been faster in its roll out, but TEPCO will catch up and exceed Kansai quickly at this pace.